Ever since the first Seceders meeting hall was built near the site in 1753, Nicholson Street Church has been a place where members of the community have been able to gather. The Seceders split from the established Church of Scotland in 1732 to form the associate presbytery. A further split over the Burgess oath, resulted in the ‘Burgher and Anti-Burgher sects within the Secession Church.
The Nicholson Street church is named on a map of 1795 as the ‘Anti Burgher Meeting House’. It was called by the church historian Robert Small “ the mother Secession church in Edinburgh”
The Reverend John Jamieson became the minister at the Nicholson Street Church in 1797. He was also a lexicographer and compiled the ‘Etymological Scottish Dictionary’ in 1808. He was also a major force in bringing the New Licht factions together.
In 1820, coinciding with two sects the Anti-Burghers and the New Licht Burghers merging to form the United Secession Church, The Nicholson Street Church was rebuilt with a New Perpendicular Gothic façade. This façade was the only part of the building to survive a fire in 1932 when the rest of the building was demolished and rebuilt.
It remained a place of worship until at least 1969 when it was a part of the church of Scotland. From around 1909 the church building saw increased use beyond religious service, with the establishment of, the women’s guild of Friendship, a men’s club and scout and guide troops. By the 1950’s there was a Social Club, Women’s Guild, Boy’s Brigade, rambling and bowling clubs.
At its closure the church was sold to the corporation (now the city of Edinburgh council). There was a brief period as a furniture warehouse. It became a community centre after a long campaign by the Southside Association to have a permanent base, in the heart of the Southside’s main throughfare. In 1986 the centre was officially opened by George Foulkes MP.